WASHINGTON – Parents, students, and their fellow educators across the nation are joining the National Education Association in celebrating National Education Support Professionals Day on Wednesday, Nov. 15th. ESP Day is celebrated every year during American Education Week.
Education support professionals (ESPs) are critical members of the education workforce who do essential work to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students, and enable them to reach higher levels of knowledge, achievement, and success. They include paraeducators, clerical professionals, custodians, tradespeople and technical staff, school security officers, school bus drivers and transportation staff, food service workers, and health and student service employees. Together, this critical group makes up more than one-third of all public school employees.
“ESPs are tirelessly dedicated to ensuring the safety, well-being and preparedness of our students. They go above and beyond by maintaining and rejuvenating aging school buildings, managing bus routes without enough drivers, preparing nutritious meals, addressing students’ social and emotional needs and undertaking countless other responsibilities,” said NEA President Becky Pringle.
“ESPs across the nation have consistently demonstrated their commitment to fulfilling the unique needs of our students and school communities. They have persevered despite low pay, and staffing and supply shortages that have made it increasingly difficult for them to provide the necessary supports our students need and deserve,” she added.
To celebrate ESP Day NEA and President Pringle will host a national tele-town hall meeting, “Championing Education Support Professionals” on Wednesday, Nov. 15 to discuss the important role ESPs play in the lives of students, the critical issues facing their professions, and all they need to ensure every student succeeds. Along with President Pringle, speakers will include Sen. Edward Markey, who recently introduced a new resolution calling for a National ESP Bill of Rights, and Pamella Johnson, the 2023 NEA ESP of the Year. The public can email their members of Congress to support the resolution by going to nea.org/edvotes. They can also send a thank you message to ESPs (or receive them, if you are an ESP!) by texting CELEBRATE to 48744.
NEA is also celebrating 39 state nominees for 2024 NEA Education Support Professional of the Year. The annual award, which will be announced in March, recognizes the contributions ESP make toward their schools, communities and professions. See the full list of nominees at nea.org/espoty.
Throughout American Education Week, President Pringle will spend time each day honoring everyone in the education community, including parents and community members, working to support the physical, mental, and academic well-being of students.
“It is imperative that we celebrate the invaluable contributions of ESPs with more than mere words. We must actively promote and champion the vital role they play within our school communities and advocate for the professional recognition and pay they deserve,” said Pringle.
About American Education Week
National Education Support Professionals Day is part of NEA’s annual American Education Week celebration, taking place this year November 13-17. National ESP Day is observed on Wednesday of American Education Week.
Celebrated the week prior to Thanksgiving, American Education Week began in 1921 with the NEA and the American Legion as cosponsors. The goal was to generate public awareness and support for education because of concerns over illiteracy. A year later, the U.S. Office of Education signed on, and the PTA followed in 1938.
American Education Week honors students’ determination to learn; recognizes the professionalism and dedication of teachers, support staff, and other educators; thanks parents and members of the community who help students succeed; and rededicates the community at large to quality public education for every student.
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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, students preparing to become teachers, healthcare workers, and public employees. Learn more at www.nea.org.
- Celeste Busser
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